In 2016 and 2017 we did two photoshoots at the Louvre Pyramid in Paris, and they couldn’t have been more different. The glass pyramids rise up out of the ground in the Louvre courtyard, and they form giant skylight windows to the museum lobby underground. Unsurprisingly, photography is not permitted inside the museum itself, but tourists love taking photos of the pyramids outside. Of course, we wanted photos that were uncluttered by tourists, which showing up at the least busy times of day.
The Louvre Pyramid in the Fall
In October, we showed up at the Louvre Pyramid at about 6pm. Under most conditions, this would have been too early, but we had two things going for us. The first is that it was on a Tuesday. The pyramids never close, but the Louvre Museum itself is closed on Tuesdays. Though tourists enjoy the pyramids, most of them are on a tight schedule and want to see them on the same day they tour the museum, thus, on a Tuesday, most people are visiting other attractions. Tuesday is the best day to photograph the Louvre pyramids.
Even though the museum was closed, there still normally would have been a few people there shortly before sunset when we arrived. Luckily for us (from a crowd perspective, anyway), it was also raining. Most people don’t really like photography in the rain because it’s physically unpleasant and because it puts your gear at risk. But we waited patiently under the roofs that surround the courtyard, and when it stopped raining we quickly went out and captured our images.
Paris darkened quickly under the cloudy skies. In the evenings, the pyramids are illuminated and the light from within reflects on the pools that surround them. Between showers, the puddles on the ground reflected the lights as well and the entire courtyard was aglow. Our daughter played in the puddles and enjoyed the surreal lights. But it wasn’t long before the busy day started to wear on her. When she showed signs of exhaustion, we knew it was time to take her back to our Airbnb to rest for another day of photography in Paris.
The Louvre Pyramid in the Spring
As part of our year of slow travel in Europe, we returned to Paris for a week in June. While it was still technically Spring, it was beginning to feel a lot like Summer to us. The crowds were getting thick and the days were getting hot. As any photographer knows, there’s only one way to get around those two problems, and that’s to get up early. By this time in the year, the sun was already rising very early, so light wasn’t going to be an issue.
Of course, getting there in the morning was a lot easier the second time around since we were staying in an Airbnb just down the road. In the fall we walked over an hour to get there from our Airbnb near the Eiffel Tower. A 6 am shoot was a piece of cake this time, and our feet weren’t aching when we finished.
During the daylight hours, the pyramids were not self illuminated, which gave their surroundings a chance to shine. Paris is filled with amazing arches, gardens and monuments. The whole city seems to have been built to give it’s explorers moments of symmetry and beauty. We decided to play with that symmetry in this shoot and we had fun finding new different ways to create visual balance.
Unlike the previous visit, when even a gentle breeze had disrupted the surface of the pools that filled the Louvre Courtyard, the Spring morning was quiet and still. We enjoyed using the water as a mirror to create geometric shapes and patterns.
Even though it had been less than a year since our last visit, Lisa had grown up dramatically. This meant that we had a little more leeway to explore the area and play around (it helped that we were warm and dry this time, too). In addition to the reflective pools, the tunnels under the courtyard walls, and the arches across the street provided were ideal for fun symmetric compositions.
This time, Lisa signaled that it was time to stop again, but not because she was tired. The day was just starting and once we made it across the street for some shots by the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, the Garden des Tuileries was in sight and we could hardly hold her back. We’d gotten enough photos for the morning, and we were more than happy to indulge our daughter’s eagerness to explore one of the world’s most beautiful cities.